By Joanna Langfield

Jordan Peele’s newest is a movie that loves movies. I loved it for that, and a whole lot more.

Jordan Peele’s latest salutes the big Hollywood movies of the past, with a delicious wink to a more modern today. Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer star as the struggling brother and sister, trying to keep their family horse ranch alive. It’s not easy. The Hollywood studios don’t need as many stunt horses. The slick neighbor (a wonderful Steven Yeun) is encroaching. And Dad? Well, he’s been murdered by some very angry mystery in the skies.

Yes, Peele, who wrote, produced and directed, twists the themes we’ve seen in many other popular pieces: sci-fi, westerns, family drama just to name a few. But what he’s knitted together feels exhilaratingly fresh, and as surprisingly emotional as it is nerve wracking. A lot of that has to do with Peele’s style. He’s smart and doesn’t mind letting you know it. While he’s made a full throttle entertainment, he’s also happy to throw in a few juicy digs along the way. But I also loved his broader strokes, his appreciation of familial ties, as well as the ones we (and those very alien aliens) have with the animals who share our Earth.

Perhaps the story lags just a bit, but that does give us more time to enjoy, and I sure did enjoy, the performances from new to me Brandon Perea and Michael Wincott, as two rather colorful characters who join the Haywood siblings in their showdowns with whatever it is up there. It’s a delight to see Steven Yeun’s take on a former child star turned cowboy showman. But this movie belongs to the buoyant Keke Palmer and the almost wordless Daniel Kaluuya. The holds they have on their characters makes them not just people we come to care about, but 21st century versions of archetype heroes. They couldn’t have come along at a better time.  

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